Sales & Sales Management Expertise

Book Review – You Gotta Have Balls – By Brandon Steiner

Tags: Sales Strategies, sales success


I just heard Brandon speak at the recent Objective Management Group’s Annual International Sales Conference.  The sub-title to the book is:  How a Kid from Brooklyn Started from Scratch, Bought Yankee Stadium, and Created a Sports Empire.

A couple of things before I get into the book:

  • If you are in a position to hire someone to speak to your sales team or organization, Brandon is a very good hire. His soft-spoken, easy going manner will not irritate anyone in the meeting by coming across as a brash, aggressive sales guy from New York.  I think that’s a plus.
  • His close is really good.
  • His story about Michael Jordan is very entertaining.
  • There are some great life and business lessons don’t hit you over the head but are really good.
  • I like that he loves and credits his Mom with so much of his success.

Some of my noted captions in the book:

Getting into Syracuse University

  • Brandon had applied to Syracuse and he was getting ready to go into the interview to meet with the admission counselor. He states, “As I went into it, I thought, ‘I don’t want this to be the last time I see this place.’
    • I think this is important because it’s similar to pre-call planning. The first step is to identify the objective of the call.
    • It helped him craft the conversation he needed to have in order to tip the scales in his favor to meet the objective.
  • Here is how he states he started the conversation: “I don’t have any money, my SAT scores are kind of low and my grades are pass/fail.  I’ve been working full-time since I started high school; I’ve contributed to every student club I could fit into my schedule; I’ve been involved in so many activities I can barely remember them all, and if you give me an opportunity, I promise you I will use every inch of this school.  You will never regret letting me in.”
  • How good is that as an opening statement that doesn’t look, act and sound like every other applicant?

Getting the job at Hard Rock Café in NYC

  • Negotiate your first raise before you even get started
    • He was turned down the first time he applied.
    • He went back and suggested they hire him as a consultant.
    • They wanted to hire him for $22,500.00 to be the manager.
    • He declined the offer and countered with:
      • What you need is someone to come in and take charge.
      • Hire me as the assistant general manager at $36,000.
      • Give me a two-month trial period and, if it works out, I want my salary to be $41,000.
      • If it doesn’t work out after three months, you get rid of me.
    • Great advice for hiring the high-priced sales person that is asking for premium dollars to move to your organization.

Not overselling is an underrated part of selling.

Play the game, not the score

  • When you have players on the team that are playing the game and not the score:
    • You cannot tell if they are at quota, above or below. They just keep doing the things they are supposed to do.
    • On Derek Jeter, captain of the NY Yankees: “Watching Jeter at the end of the season you couldn’t tell if they were headed to the playoffs or in last place in the division.”
  • A valuable employee – one playing the game and not the score – will look like a valuable employee no matter the situation or circumstances. Consistency over time equals credibility.
  • This is important when evaluating current a new talent. When someone comes to you with a grievance or suggestion is that the someone that day in and day out performs as an all-star… or one that rides the wave when things are good and complains when things are bad? Pay attention to the source of complaints or suggestions – are they credible?

Selling when you are selling

  • When you make a big sale, keep going and make the second big sale.
  • Don’t worry about celebrating the win or mourning the loss.
  • Shoot your way out of a slump.
  • In his presentation, Brandon told a story about calling a prospective influencer 99 times in two days. Playing the game and not the score!
  • Before you try and sell someone something, make sure you know where their heart is and what makes them tick. That information is at least as valuable as whatever sales statistics you can offer up.


  • In negotiating, a big part of getting what you want is helping other people get what they want.
  • Your true value is determined by how much you give in value rather than how much you receive in payment.
  • Dig the well before you are thirsty.
  • It’s risky to not take risks.
  • If you use your head, you don’t have to use your feet.

Fishing/Selling – It’s an Exact Science… Kinda

Tags: sales success, selling skills, fishing

I went fishing with a very good friend of mine from First Citizens Bank in NC and he took me to his favorite fishing hole - Lake James.  Keith claims it is the most beautiful fishing lake in the country.  I don’t know if it is - I’ve not seen them all, but this is one beautiful lake!



Equipment - You gotta have equipment.  According to my guide, Keith Walker, there is no such thing as too much equipment.  I didn’t count everything, but I’m guessing we had 12 fishing rods and rigs, well over 100 different types of lures, and enough different types of hooks for another 25 different types of plastic lures.

Electronic Technology - Two radar screens to determine depth of water, temperature of water, structure underneath the water and visuals to determine schools of baitfish and predator fish.

Boat - A boat well-equipped to handle two people, rod holders, bait well, and a 40 hp four-stroke Suzuki engine to get us to various spots on the vast lake where the fish might be feeding or nesting. And a trolling motor at the bow of the boat so that we could quietly and slowly approach fishing areas.

Intelligence - Most importantly, we had human intelligence.  (That's a bit of a stretch with Keith… but I’ll give him credit for intelligence in fishing, North Carolina basketball J and managing a team of investment advisors.  Any other intelligences attributed to Keith is questionable as it is with all former coaches of any kind as they never fail to let the facts spoil a good story.) All the fishing enablement tools are needed but, without the human intelligence to put the pieces together to develop a strategy to find the fish, lure the fish, and catch the fish, the equipment and technology is, well, just equipment and technology.

As an example, the first place we fished is a place known as the rock pile.  It a rather shallow place in the lake with very clear water and, about 7 feet down, you can see rocks, lots of rocks.  Without the human intelligence, I would have not known to go there first thing in the morning, but that is exactly where we were at 6:30 AM on Saturday where we landed 3 fish and hooked another 3.  Then we moved on… because, after about an hour after sunrise, the fish move on.  Human Intelligence.

The same is true in selling.  You can leverage all the technology available to you, but at the end of the day, the technology cannot do what Dan Sullivan described many years ago in his great book - Selling for the 21st Century Agent.

Technology cannot replace what human intelligence and skill can do:

  • Development mutually beneficial relationships
  • Provide creative solutions to people’s problems
  • Get people to take action

If you find yourself not doing those three things on a consistent basis, then you will find yourself in a boat, in a lake and wonder why you aren’t catching any fish.

How Did Your Sales Year Start?

Tags: sales management, improving sales results, sales success

For many sales managers, the year end came to a sudden stop last Thursday as they closed the books on 2015. Yesterday, January 4th, you were back at the office kicking off a new year of sales. Depending on the type of sales you and your team are in, January results are a result of what you did at the tail end of 2015. With that in mind, how is your March, April and May shaping up?

Was your Monday a “Black Monday”? The Monday following the final game in the NFL is known as Black Monday because many head coaches lose their job for failure to manage, coach, recruit the team to success. (8 coaches lost their job.)


If you don’t know - or you’re not sure - then you’re in trouble. In most B2B sales (Dismantling the B2B sales cycle HBR article), there is at least a 30-day sales cycle. If that is the case, then December determined your January and you may have closed out last year excited about your start to 2016. Did you enjoy the last week of the year knowing you were off to a great start… or were you were worried, mad or frustrated about where you might be headed?

If you are in B2B sales, then January 4th was about making sure your Q1 was going to be on target and you were looking at leading indicators like sales activity, pipeline opportunities, sales in process and presentations scheduled for the next 30 days. If that is not what your Monday looked like, then there are a few things to consider:

If your sales cycle is 90+ days, then:

  • By the end of October you knew how good January was going to be.
  • The first week of January tells you how good April is going to be
  • If you didn’t know how good January was going to be, then there is something missing in your sales managed environment.
  • If, by the end of this week, you cannot tell your president, executive committee, CFO or board what the first quarter will produce or how April is setting up, then now is the time to put in place the right systems and processes.

Effective sales management is a combination of 5 crucial functions:

  1. Recruiting
  2. Performance Management
  3. Coaching
  4. Motivating
  5. Upgrading

Each one of these functions has associated systems and processes that allow the effective sales manager to run the operation, manage the people and provide valuable business information to those who need it. Performance management is the function we are addressing today.

An effective performance management system allows you, the manager, to accurately predict the future sales health of the organization. Unlike a mutual fund that cannot promise future results by looking at past performance, you should be able to promise future results because your systems and processes provide you real time information about what you team is doing or failing to do. With the billions of dollars being spent on CRMs (BASE Sales CRM – Better ROI than, you should, at the push of a button, get reports for leading indicators of sales:

  • Current sales activity
  • Current sales ratios
  • Reliable pipeline sales projections
  • Who is heading for failure
  • Who is on target or ahead of goal

This is what you should be getting out of your CRM. You’re not? If not, then you are always managing from behind. You are always playing catch up. You are always at a loss as to what is really going on with your sales team and you are always a bit surprised, disappointed or frustrated when the sales report comes in at the end of the week, month or quarter.

This should not be happening!

Now what? Now is a good time to take stock of 2015. Take a half-day and analyze what happened or didn’t happen. Who succeeded and why? Who failed and why? When it comes to those that failed (anyone less than 95% of goal should be considered as “failed”), my question to you is this: “When did you know?” Building the right sales managed environment and then managing that environment are keys, not the only keys, but critical keys to your 2016 success.

As you do your analysis, you must ask yourself a couple of questions:

  • What am I doing or not doing that contributes to these results?
  • What must I start doing?
  • What must I keep doing?
  • What must I stop doing?

You're the head coach. The responsibility is yours. Take a look at what’s happening, make adjustments and tough decisions… and then implement the right systems and process that will drive your sales success in 2016.

Additional Resources:

Sales Management Certification

On Demand Learning and Training for Sales

Sales Management:  Want More Success? Set New Standards for Success

Tags: sales management, sales success, sales accountability, motivation

One of the problems facing many companies today is getting more from what they have. In a time of economic pressure to manage the profits companies have become very creative in finding solutions to manage the burn rate of their cash. The solution that many, if not most, struggle with is how to get the cash generation rate to meet and exceed the burn rate. In our Sales Management Environment Certification program we take sales managers through a process to help them raise the standards of their sales organization and address that problem. Before we get to the solution let’s deal with the problem.


Almost every organization we talk to tells me and my sales development experts the same thing. They set goals for their sales people and expect the team to meet those goals. I would agree that they set goals but the real expectations are not that every one meets the goal. If that was the real expectation, if companies managed performance and managers coached their people to meet those expectation, then more people would be hitting goals.  That isn’t happening. There are many explanations for this but for today I want to focus on just one contributing factor that is difficult to manage – Internal motivation.

Here are some comments by other thought leaders on performance:

Mark Victor Hansen – “Motivation is an ‘inside – out’ job.” - mo·ti·va·tionˌmōdəˈvāSH(ə)n/noun: the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.

Ken Blanchard – “When you want to succeed as much as you want to breathe then you will be successful.”

John Maxwell – “Unmotivated people give the required effort. Motivated people give the inspired effort. The first group looks to do the minimum, the latter group seeks every opportunity to add value to the team.” (The myth of motivation)

Tony Cole - "Your actions are reflective of your motivations and commitments".

For as long as I have been seeking solutions for improving personal performance – over 25 years – the quote by Mark Hansen is one I have quoted over and over again. Almost every time I do a keynote or a workshop for a chamber, an association or industry group leader wants to know – how do I motivate my people and keep them motivated. My response has always been – “You cannot”.

What got me thinking about this again was this; I was flipping through channels on Sirius and I came across Joel Osteen’s channel. The first thing I heard him say was this – “Don’t make the mistake of settling for good enough. Good enough is not your destiny.” (Watch video on YouTube). Wow! So I kept listening. For those of you that may not be familiar with Joel he is the minister / pastor of the Lakewood Church in Houston Texas. Every Sunday you can watch him on TV. Just for the record I am not a regular follower of Joel’s so I didn’t purposely seek to find him speaking on Sirius, I just happened to find him, or maybe, he found me.

I believe in destiny. I believe that when we are launched into this world and God breathes life into us we are made to be magnificent. For most all human beings there aren’t any deficits that exist at that time. For most people all the things we need to succeed are available to us and so we begin the journey equipped with what we are born with – nature and what we have access to – nurture. Somewhere along the way we begin to develop our own unique identity and begin to make decisions that take us either closer to our magnificent destiny or take us away from it.

Joel goes on to say that there was a time in our lives where we thought the big dream, craved for the next level of success and worked to climb the next mountaintop. It might have been to earn money to buy a bicycle, buy tickets to a prom or purchase your first car. It might have been to put enough in the bank to buy the ring to give to that special someone that share your life with. Maybe it was the house you saw and you said "someday" and you began the path required to move into that house and have that life style. And then ‘Good’ became ‘Good Enough’.

I’m not talking about the material things that make our life 'Good Enough'. Surely that has happened for you or is happening for you but do the material things in your life really define your highest and best? Do they represent that awesome, magnificent life that you have available? Are you able to look in the mirror every day/week/month/year and say to yourself that what you did represents your highest and best? Does it represent all that you can be to your family, your community, your friends, your company or does it represent ‘Good Enough'.  If we think back to when we are in school 'Good Enough' meant enough to pass the class or grade. What did that take? C’s and D’s. Those grades represent average and below average. B represents just above average. Really, is that why you chose the business you are in? Did you really say to your self that you were going to pursue and professional career in sales or sales management so that you could be average or just above average?

I’m not pointing my finger at you directly. I’m making the case for "why aren’t we growing based on the talent, resources and market presence we have"? The answer can simply be that your people are just not motivated enough to be any better then they are today. They stopped dreaming the big dream; they have fallen into the rut of defining their success by what they have versus what their parents or other friends have. They compare themselves to others and as long as they are doing better then others and they are comfortable then that is 'Good Enough".  It all starts with you. If you are settling for hitting the company sales goal on the backs of a few then you have to stop. That is not 'Good Enough'. You are one or two departures away from being way off of your sales goal.

Start dreaming the big dream for your team. Start thinking about how you can dominate your market place, how you can be the best-maybe not the biggest but the best. Start wondering what the next extraordinary level of performance might be for you and the team and what it might be like to have that level of achievement.  Create an environment where your people can start dreaming the big dream again. Challenge them on their thinking about 'Good Enough' and settling. Challenge them the way I’ve challenged you today by asking them if their performance represents their highest and best. Tell them that that is the type of team you have to have because that is how you are thinking. Tell them that you love them and care about them and hope that they will join you on this journey but assure them that you will have a team that thinks and pursues the big dream.

This, out of all the things you can do as a manager to drive performance, might be the most difficult because it is so personal. But difficult does not mean impossible.

Additional Resources:

Do I have motivated or inspired people – Sales Force Evaluation Study

Personal Goal Setting – A facilitated workshop

Call me right now to talk about motivation – Tony’s mobile 513 226 3913. Text message: motivation, your name

Why Companies Struggle with Hiring Quality Sales People

Tags: hire better sales people, sales management, sales success, upgrade your sales force

Putting the best people in the right seats is the biggest problem identified by most business owners, especially as it applies to critical sales roles. Here are the 5 most common reasons most companies struggle with hiring quality salespeople.


#1 Companies outsource their recruiting and the responsibility. Recruiting is something that a company has to own. They can no longer outsource the work and the responsibility. That makes it too easy for people internally to throw up their hands and transfer failures associated within the hiring process to the outsourced firm. If companies are going to improve the quality of their hires, they have to own the process.

#2 There is a lack of a consistent process for constantly searching. Most, if not all, companies make the mistake of looking for candidates only when they have an opening. This leads to many problems:

  • Being held hostage by salespeople with “large books”. Companies feel they cannot do anything about them for fear of losing the “books” since there aren’t any replacements.
  • Feeling desperate to fill a chair with a warm bottom when there is a vacancy. A body,
    any body, is better than no one sitting in the chair (branch).
  • Not replacing underperformers because there isn’t a pipeline of candidates to choose from. The underperformers stay around too long; others know it and realize that they don’t have to perform to keep their job, so overall team production continues to decline.

#3 Companies are not getting quality candidates entering the process. The traditional model of recruiting today is one where the placement firm tries to convince their client why a candidate should be hired. Companies should, on the other hand, work extremely hard to disqualify candidates because there are specific skills that apply for that sales job and many/most candidates do not have those skills. Bottom line, the company has to assess at least two things: 1) Do they have enough of the right strengths to be successful? 2) Will they sell versus can they sell?

#4 There is poor communication about the specific role and expectations of this new hire. Too often, everyone is so excited about putting the deal together (getting the seat filled) that no one takes the time to get into the details of the day-to-day requirements of the job. This leads to early misunderstandings about the role and eventually, failure on the part of the new hire to meet the expectations of the company. Failure to “negotiate on the 1st tee” leads to misunderstanding and failure to execute on the sales goals.

#5 The on-boarding process is inadequate. Most companies are ill-equipped to effectively on-board new sales people. They spend time introducing them to the “culture” of the operation, the mechanics of the job and how to get things done. They introduce them to HR, their support team, marketing and their partners. And, yes, there is discussion about goals, sales activities and how to enter data into CRM. And then… the new hires are on their own.

Companies think that they have hired their next sales superstar and then, 12 months later, they cannot figure out what went wrong. They look at the numbers and discover that the new hires are producing “just like everyone else in the middle of the pack.” The process most companies have in place currently to recruit and hire salespeople perpetuates this problem.

If you need help or more information on hiring better salespeople, we have many resources available for you. You can also text me directly at (513 226-3913) and type Hiring in the subject line. You will get my undivided attention!



Does Your Sales Team Have "Swagger"?

Tags: sales success, building successful sales teams, highly successful sales people

 Excerpt from the speech "Citizenship In A Republic" – Theodore Roosevelt, delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910   
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

What does it take for a salesperson/sales team to live that life?

1. Goals – Not just any goal(s), but goals that, as Walt Disney stated, drive you from the inside: “Dream the big dream, there is nothing in small dreams that stir the blood.”

2. Passion – A passion that emanates from you whenever you are doing what you love to do or talking about what you love to do. When others are in your presence they are compelled to stop and listen and watch/listen while you “burn”.

3. Commitment – The kind of commitment that is best described as “willing to do everything possible to succeed.”

4. Integrity – The determination to do what should be done even if no one is watching and no one will give you credit as a result of doing the right thing simply because it was the right thing to do.

5. Skills – Maybe not all the technical skills required to perfectly execute a behavior, but they have skills like intuition, high “figure it out” ability, stick-to-it-tiveness (not sure that’s a word) persistence, and determination.

6. Willingness to Take Risks – Some people just take shots and decide to aim as they go knowing that they may not at first hit the target but, eventually, they will get sighted-in and hit the objective.

7. Lack of Fear of Failure or Success – Truly, the ability to move on regardless of an outcome is required if you are going to keep going even after you’ve been marred by blood, sweat and blood.

8. Discernment – Those that keep going understand the difference between failing to accomplish an object and being a failure. They understand that a failure is something that occurs in one of their “roles” in life, but who they are on the inside stays intact.

9. Discernment, Part II – They know what shots to take, when to hold them and when to fold them. They estimate the chances of winning and know what they are willing to risk. They stack the deck as best they can and take action knowing full-well they cannot account for every incident that might keep them from success.

10. Ownership – They give credit to others for success and own the outcomes of failure. They don’t blame other people or things; they simply think and or say, “I failed to…”

Imagine just these 10 characteristics, traits or skills all wrapped up in a human being. And that, even with all of these strengths, they continue to grow through risk, success and failure. As a result, they have confidence. They have a sense of invulnerability when it comes to doing the tough stuff. When they walk into a room and start to speak, they own the room. They command attention and they say and do things that others admire and wish they could say and do.

They are people that you want to have on your team and would rather not have to compete against because you know they will do everything they need to do to win. They will be relentless in pursuit of an objective and, while they occasionally lose, most often it is a loss they were willing to suffer in order to do the right things, the right way, for the right reasons.

These people have earned the right to have swagger, to be courageous, assertive and brave because they have fought the fight, they have actually been in the arena, and have had their face marred by dust and sweat and blood; they strove valiantly, made errors, came up short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who actually strove to do the deeds; knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; spends himself in a worthy cause; and at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement

Do you have these people?

Additional Resources:

How to Build a Motivated Sales Team



What Habits Support or Prohibit Effective Selling?

Tags: sales competencies, sales management, sales success, sales habits


I reached out to 4 people that I respect in the field of sales and sales management.

  1. Bill Eckstrom, President and CEO of EcSell Institute and also the creator and developer of a super cool sales management application called Oneup.
  2. Dwight Kollmeier, President of First National Insurance Agency and former batting practice pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds.
  3. David Kurlan, President of Objective Management Group. Dave created and continues to improve the #1 pre-hire sales assessment in the world.
  4. Rick Wirthlin, Regional Director for Commercial Lending at Huntington Bank and scratch golfer. I’ve known each of these professionals for many years and respect their expertise and insight about selling and sales management.

Last week, I started writing about habits. I let everyone know that I promised my wife Linda that I would be more consistent in my good habit of exercise and that got me thinking about the habits of sales people. As I was thinking about what I wanted to write about, I emailed each of these guys and asked them to provide me a list of the “bad habits” they see in sales people. Below are their slightly edited responses:

Bill Eckstrom: I would say the following, in no particular order:

  • Procrastination
  • Lack of understanding the big picture  (can’t see beyond their own objectives)
  • Offering solutions too early in the process

Dwight Kollmeier: Unfortunately, I know these all too well. I see them everyday.

  • Over-confident with existing customers, assuming there is zero competition.  I believe in the old Satchel Page quote, “Don’t look over your shoulder because someone is always gaining on you.” Assume that there is always competition and ask the right questions to find out for sure.
  • Assuming that business in the pipeline will close but not knowing for sure (unclear and fuzzy future). Know the odds by asking the difficult questions up front and be able to walk away.
  • Over presenting and not having good, solid discussions with prospects to find out if it makes sense to do business together.  Ask questions and listen. Probe deep.
  • Wasting valuable selling and prospecting time by placing it low on the time management ranking and placing other non-productive activities higher on the list.  Do the hardest things early in the day religiously and then one can do other activities after prospecting is completed.
  • Failing to get upfront contacts or commitments from the prospect as to how the sales process will work.

Dave Kurlan: Top 5 Bad Habits of Salespeople:

  • Demo too soon in the sales process
  • Give up on contacting prospects several attempts too early
  • Don’t thoroughly qualify
  • Make too many assumptions
  • Don’t reach real decision makers

Rick Wirthlin:

  • Lack of desire,
  • Not executing to a consistent sales process,
  • Not setting goals so commitment to success is conditional
  • Not uncovering motivation to take action, make a change,
  • Not getting to decision makers,
  • Not making commitments to make a decision stick

This article has been sitting in the dock of my Mac for two days as I contemplated how to close. In the meantime, I realized that calling them “bad habits” may not be the right thing to do. Let’s just call them habits - habits that either support effective selling or prohibit effective selling.

- What habits that prohibit effective selling would be on your list?
- What do you see in common in all of the comments of these other sales professionals?
- What impact do these habits have on your team’s ability to sell more, sell more quickly, sell at higher margins?
- What influence do you have on this?
- Did you hire your people this way or make them this way?
- I know you inherited some of this, but now what?
- What training have you done and what impact has it had?

Habits are difficult to break. Maybe some of them are impossible. I don’t claim to know. In all cases, in order to improve any kind of performance, you must:

  • Recognize that you are getting an outcome that you DON’T want and HAVE to fix
  • Recognize there is a root cause that lies beyond the symptom of the outcome
  • Address possible ways to correct the habit
  • Implement a disciplined approach to changing the thinking and then the behavior
  • Inspect what you expect
  • Report on actual activity vs. goal
  • Adjust and take action


Don't miss out on our Extraordinary Sales Manager Webinar Series! It's not too late to get involved - Part 2 is coming up June 29, 2015. SIGN UP TODAY for the "Hire Better Salespeople" FREE webinar and get ready to take your hiring to a whole new level!


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Beliefs and Their Impact on Sales Success

Tags: Sales Beliefs, sales success


I had no idea about beliefs and the relationship between my beliefs and how I executed as a sales person until I was introduced to the Objective Management Group Sales Person Evaluation Tool. That was about 21 years ago. Most of what we teach and coach at Anthony Cole Training Group regarding beliefs, selling and sales success is a result of our relationship with the OMG company and the use of their extraordinary evaluation tools.

But, before I go into a discussion about beliefs and sales success, let me take a minute to just focus on beliefs, attitude and behavior.

I’m an educator by degree, preference, nature and nurture. As a result, I’ve spent a lot of my reading and research time over the years learning about why people do what they do. I’ve also come to realize many things about myself and why I do what I do.

  • I believe that we are all created for a great destiny. Our job is to determine what that destiny is and pursuit it with all our heart, body and soul.
  • I believe that we are responsible for our outcomes and, as a result, we shouldn’t make excuses and play the blame game.
  • I believe in the law of cause and effect. There are no accidents. There are unfortunate events, but I assure there is a cause.
  • I don’t believe in luck. That would mean I would have to believe in “unluck”. There are things in my life that could be considered unfortunate, but it has nothing to do with being unlucky.
  • I believe we all share the common gifts trilogy of time, talent and treasures and that we are responsible for leveraging those gifts into something greater than ourselves. I, like many, waste my time, talent and treasures. It pains me to admit, but being honest is something I also believe in doing.
  • I believe in Emerson’s essay on the Law of Compensation. To summarize the entire essay in one phrase – if you want more, give more. Whenever I exercise – spend energy – I feel more energetic.
  • I believe that Jesus is my Lord and Savior and died for my sins. Knowing this, believing in this makes me eternally grateful for my very existence.

I share this brief list (I have many beliefs some of which I probably cannot even express) because I also belief in transparency. I believe that if you really want to relate to a person or audience you must be willing to put yourself out there and be vulnerable. Also, by sharing this list of beliefs, we can transition this discussion from personal beliefs and how they influence how we live our lives to our beliefs about selling and how these beliefs impact our sales success.

Here are some of my beliefs as they relate to selling:

  • If a president of a company is taking time to talk with me, there must be something going on in that person’s business that needs exploring. I don’t know if the issue has anything to do with sales training, sales management develop or hiring better sales people, but that’s not my concern at that moment.
  • I believe people pay for products, solutions and services based on their perceived value of how the purchase will help them solve a problem they have or a problem they perceive in their future.
  • I believe that the price is important, but it is not the determining factor.
  • I believe people pay exactly what they think the solution is worth. My job is to create or help the prospect the see enormous value in what our company will do for them. The perception of enormous value eliminates “buying on price”.
  • I believe I have the right to choose who I do business with. What we do as a company isn’t for everyone. The companies we work with have an appetite for change. They recognize that there is “gold in them thar hills” and that, if they knew how to mine the gold, they’d have it. But they don’t. They value outside expertise and are willing to invest the appropriate time, money and resources for the perceived return.
  • I believe my clients.
  • I believe that prospects have their own agenda and objectives that they want to accomplish. Their agenda rarely lines up with mine and so that is what makes the buying selling scenario so challenging and interesting. My job is to find out what their objectives are and why are they talking to me.
  • I believe you can close a deal on the first call.
  • I believe you can establish a strong relationship on the first call.
  • I believe that you can get someone to tell you what their budget is.
  • I believe you can ask someone how they will fire their current provider.
  • I believe you can tell someone that they don’t have enough money to fix the problem.
  • I believe you can sell something that is higher priced.
  • I believe that if you want more referrals you should give more referrals.
  • I believe that you can earn unlimited amounts of money in selling.
  • I believe that it is okay to want to make a lot of money.
  • I believe that the question “when is enough enough?” is the wrong question.
  • I believe that people buy when they are in severe mental anguish over something and you’ve demonstrate that you can make that go away.
  • I believe that you can demonstrate your expertise by asking great questions and by having great dialog with clients by telling stories about other successes and other situations you’ve handled.
  • I believe that, if you are stuck or in a rut, you have everything you need to change that.
  • I believe that Tony Robbins is right when he says “you can change in an instant”.
  • I believe that companies should build their budgets based on the personal goals and ambitions of the individual sales people instead of handing them out like candy or spreading the budget out like peanut butter.
  • I believe that sales managers are the key to a company’s sales success.
  • I believe that most sales managers are under-trained and, in many cases, unarmed for going into the battle.
  • I believe that maybe this article has gone on too long.
  • But, I also believe that, if you get your beliefs “right”, your behaviors and action will follow.
  • I believe that. if you want to change any outcome in your life, you must first find the root cause and this root cause will be your beliefs about that one thing in your life that you want to change.

Additional resources:


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Sales Success – It’s a Function of Beliefs, Habits and Skills

Tags: sales goals, sales success, sales habits


I’m going to skip over beliefs and skills today because, when I started thinking about this post, I decided I wanted to write about habits.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

About 6 weeks ago, maybe longer than that, I developed a new habit – not blogging. It was an easy habit to develop. One day, I didn’t post a blog, and then I didn’t post one the next day, or the next, or the next and, the next thing you know, it’s June 1st. I decided that I’ve had that bad habit long enough and now it’s time to develop a new habit – blogging.

I’ve had this habit before. Usually, it last about 6 months and then I just stop. And then the not blogging habit takes over. The same thing happens with my exercise routine - I exercise consistently and then something happens to break that habit and I develop my habit of not exercising. That is a really easy habit to stick with. Last week, my wife Linda asked me to promise her that I would get up early the next day and go to the club to work out. I promised her that I would and so I have now hit the club 4 out of the last 7 days, played golf once, and tennis twice.

Already I feel better about doing the right thing and getting back into a good habit.

Before I started this post, I googled “sales habits”. Here are the first 5 responses:

I myself have written or spoken about sales habits in the past:

I’m an educator by degree. During my undergraduate work at UConn, my fellow future teachers and I were taught that behaviors and habits are a result of combinations of rewards and consequences. If you wanted your student to develop certain habits or skills, part of the development, in addition to the teaching and coaching, was rewarding success and disciplining failure. Sometimes the disciplined approach was punitive; other times it was a matter of repeating the behavior, skill or activity until they (the person being taught) got it right. Once they got it right, they were rewarded.

Given all of this background, here are my thoughts for today about habits.

  • Good habits are called good habits because they contribute to the successful completion of the goals and objectives you say you are committed to.
  • Bad habits are “bad” because, instead of taking you towards your objectives, they take you away. They keep you from accomplishing what you said was important to you.
  • Keeping your good habits “habitual” is dependent upon your level of commitment to your goals. If you are truly committed and willing to sacrifice immediate gratification for the long-term good, then good habits stick.
  • If you find that you cannot consistently execute your good habits, it is probably due to your lack of commitment to the things you say are important to you.
  • “Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.” - Vince Lombardi
  • Often the things/habits you need to be doing aren’t urgent: Exercising, eating well, taking baby aspirin, getting enough sleep, prospecting, blogging, etc.
  • Habits become urgent when something else urgent happens: Heart attack, bodily injury, stroke, diabetes, organ failure, put on performance improvement program because of lack of production, lack of website activity.
  • Your habits are expressive of your commitments.

How do you correct your behavior and become more habitual? Here are my 5 Steps to Better Habits:

  1. Identify goals and objectives that are non-negotiable
  2. Have a plan to achieve those goals. Make sure the plan is detailed.
  3. Have a system to track your progress, execution of the necessary habits, activities required to achieve your goals.
  4. Inspect what you expect.
  5. Have an accountability partner that loves you and cares enough about you to hold your feet to the fire.

In addition to the 3,7,11, 10, 25 habits mentioned earlier, execute these 5 Steps to Better Habits and text me at 513-226-3913 with the subject – “Call me about habits.”


Did you like today’s post? Read more of Tony Cole’s Blog HERE. Also, we bet you’ll love our weekly audio Sales Brew and monthly newsletter! Sign up HERE and receive Tony Cole’s eBook, Why is Selling So #%&@ Hard?, as our thanks to you!

My 4 Thoughts on Selling - Performance, Motivation, Consistency and…

Tags: reaching sales goals, sales success

The Dave Kurlan Blog – Understanding the Sales Force – has ben abuzz with comments about a youth baseball coach that made his team run wind sprints after they gave up a lead big enough to invoke the ‘mercy rule’. I won’t go any further into the comments made by others about Dave’s position. You can click here to follow that discussion. What I will talk about is this:

Consistency – As some of you know, I played college football at UConn from 1973 to 1977, coached at the University of Cincinnati from 1978 to 1980 and was the strength and conditioning coordinator for varsity athletics at Iowa State University from 1980 to 1983. In those years as an athlete and as a coach, this is what I witnessed and experienced. Those that had the greatest overall success in their athletic career were those that were the most consistent in everything they did.

As an example: We had two players - one a great running back and the other an above average lineman at Iowa State. The first was incredibly gifted, but never took the time to leverage his gifts. The other, while gifted, had to work extremely hard and had to consistently work at his skills, fitness and knowledge of the game to be a success. Both made it to the NFL. The running back had a very short career with spotty success at best. The other was the starting right tackle for the 1986 Superbowl Champion NY Giants. The difference in natural talent was made up by consistency in effort and execution to improve the skills and execute the behaviors needed to be successful at the highest level. The offensive lineman allowed himself to be held accountable to the little things that mattered while the superstar running back avoided all manner of management.

chriscampbellMotivation - Chris Campbell won a bronze medal in freestyle wrestling in the 1986 Barcelona Olympics – he was 2 months shy of his 38th birthday. At that time, he was the oldest known medalist in Olympic wrestling. His motivation? He had made the 1980 Olympic team. But, for those of you old enough to remember or know enough history, the US boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics in protest of the war in Afghanistan. So, Chris did not get the chance to wrestle. Two years later in the 1982 World Games, he beat the 1980 Olympic champion. As sweet as that victory was, it wasn’t an Olympic medal. I lost track of Chris for a while after I left Iowa State. Then… four years later, there he was on the Olympic podium.

Performance – This is what is actually done by an individual versus what is projected to get by that individual. My daughter, Alex, loves to perform. Now that she is working full-time as a recruiter for Aerotek, she doesn’t get the chance to perform on stage. If she thought she could make enough money performing (what she wants drives what she needs to do – work), that is what she would do.

I loved watching her perform. I was used to watching athletes and I could always tell the ones that “loved it”. They just had a look when they were performing - either in practice or in game situations. When Alex played basketball and volleyball, I never saw that look. The night she stepped out on the stage and started singing as the queen in Cinderella – I saw the look.

I have never asked her why she likes performing, so I don’t know her motivation about that. What I do know is this: When she had a great performance and she did her curtain call at the end of the show and the audience went wild, I saw a beaming look in her eyes and a shine on her face that is un-mistakable – the satisfaction of knowing she did her job well.

There was for her - and there is for your sales people - a direct correlation between performance and outcome. But, the thing to remember, the thing to understand is that the applause wasn’t just for that 90-minute performance when all eyes were watching and the lights were at their brightest. No, the applause – the outcome – is for all the hard work done when no one was watching and the lights were not on.

The same thing applies to the sales people you lead, coach and manage. And if you are not managing and coaching the day-in-and-day-out performance, then expecting applause at the end of the year is an un-validated expectation. Sure, someone might luck into one – the luck being the timing of the need and the decision to buy – but no true professional goes into a game, a match or an onstage performance counting on luck.

Last story. It’s about David Sandnaller. I remember listening to cassette tapes and hearing him tell a story about playing in a Pro-Am. He was paired with a pro that day and David went to the driving range early to get some practice swings in. He was swinging away with a bucket of balls by his side. Hit a ball, reach into the bucket, grab a ball, drop it and hit it. Repeat until bucket is empty. The pro comes up with 6 balls in his hands and a couple of clubs. David asked him, “Is that all the balls you’re going to hit?” The pro replied, “If you didn’t bring it (your game) with you, you won’t find it here.”

If your sales people are hoping to perform at their best without having done the work, then you can count on them not making the cut for the weekend rounds. As the old adage goes – Success only comes before work in the dictionary.

What does this have to do with all the buzz on Dave’s blog? It has everything to do with it. Dan thinks it is fine to just hit the big sale – pay the producer and not worry about all the other stuff that drives performance, consistency and results. Dan you are wrong. (Just in case you think I’ve lost track of my original 4 thoughts, here they are – Consistency, performance, performers and Dan is wrong)